Star of Glasgow 2014 relishing prospect of his first bout in the professional ranks
It is the day after the Mailman has taken delivery of news some chose to treat as a snub. Not that Charlie Flynn interpreted it that way. He isn’t too concerned about failing to make the shortlist for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award.
Although he will be in the same city where the event is taking place, he has other plans for the evening when the winner is announced in Glasgow.
“I will be in the Thistle hotel gieing someone a kicking,” he smiles, with that someone yet to be confirmed, despite the Commonwealth Games champion’s first professional bout being scheduled for as soon as 14 December.
Not that it matters who will be joining him inside the ring. Those who choose to head to the Thistle hotel rather than the SSE Hydro, where the BBC bash will be held, will be there to see Flynn rather than his opponent. So while the poor patsy who will be led into a veritable lions’ den is yet to be identified, other matters are in hand.
Because it is his first professional fight, Flynn is personally signing each ticket sold – and these can be bought from his own website, www.themailman.biz. A new gum shield is already in his possession. “A dentist company have sent it to me,” he says. “Black and gold, smart – with The Mailman across it.”
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New shorts, black and gold as well, have been ordered and are due to arrive any day, courtesy, presumably, of the Royal Mail – the company that has provided such unstinting support to Flynn, and where he has worked since leaving school, hence the nickname.
However, he knows, as do they, that his time in the sorting office is nearing an end. It is perhaps why they were so keen to recruit him, while they still could, to impart a pre-Christmas message yesterday.
It was one he delivered in inimitable Flynn-style in Edinburgh, hours after he had been paraded in Glasgow – they are certainly getting their pound of flesh. “Help the posties out,” he urged. “Gie them an easy day. Don’t stress my mates out! Get the postcode on it and post it early and gie them a break, man.”
With his professional career due to begin in earnest next month, Flynn is preparing to sign-off from the Royal Mail, although he thinks he will still be able to work a couple of shifts just before Christmas. He has been given a week off by the company following his maiden professional bout and then he will return, though only temporarily it seems.
“They know that to be a boxer you need to be 100 per cent,” he says. “It is not a sport, it is a lifestyle. I will be moving away probably sooner rather than later from the Royal Mail. I will be sad. I have all my mates there though I don’t really see them outwith work – I will need to pop in from time to time.”
His physical training programme is now even stricter, his time more precious. The alarm goes off at 6am, and he is in the gym for 7am. If he feels like he is starting again, on the bottom rung, that’s because he is. “It gies you the hunger, it gies something to fight for,” he says. “You are a nobody again. That’s what you want. You need to be a nobody to become a somebody. You need to have something to fight for.”
One of the reasons he chose to opt for professional boxing over amateur, thereby precluding him from involvement in the next Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, is the difficulty in going “from fighting in front of 13,000 in your home country and everyone going mental and then fighting in Khazakhstan in front of thirteen people”. He will miss his old world, though.
“You don’t realise how lonely the professional side of it is,” he says. “When you are with the amateurs, you are with all the different teams going all over the world, all these nutty countries.”
Four months on, what he achieved at the Commonwealth Games is now only just beginning to sink in. “I was the youngest ever Scottish boxer to win a gold medal – I did not even know that until a couple of weeks ago,” says Flynn, who turned 21 earlier this month, celebrating with a meal at TGI Friday’s at the Glasgow Fort shopping centre. “The whole place started singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to me, it was brutal.” He is already a true pro – giving the photographers what they wanted yesterday by turning up with a black eye, of all things. It helps make him look even more like the cartoonish scamp who captured the hearts of a nation during the summer. He did, however, manage to forget something yesterday – his gold medal. “I am bad for that,” he shrugs. As for the black eye, it was sustained while sparring. He is annoyed with himself.
“It’s the first black eye I have had since I was a boy. Everyone thinks boxers get them all the time,” he says.
“But you don’t really see boxers with black eyes. People think you do but you don’t. Even when you watch pro-boxers you don’t see them walking about with a black eye. I have not had one in years.”
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